I’ve moved into a new position in my firm, which has placed some new demands on my time (especially since I’m still in my old position). I’ll do my best to blog as much as I can.

Google has a new feature built into its maps service. Check out the My Maps tab. It’s become old hat to mash-up Google maps with other bits of information, and Google keeps making it easier to do so. Now they’ve made it easy to see some results.

I like the entry for “Our Earth as Art” presented by NASA. The photographic images really do like like paintings, and are pretty amazing in scope. The “Oral Histories of Route 66” map has some good interviews and great photos.

Google also provides KML, which feeds into Google Earth for an even richer presentation of these mashupmaps. So cool.

Overall, the product would be much, much better with integrated multimedia. But it’s worth a gander, and an occasional check-back to see what’s new and exciting.

On a more philosophical note, I find the intersection between the physical and digital worlds presented by this sort of mash-up quite compelling. The world of virtual environments springs from the imaginings of sci-fi authors such as William Gibson and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons or even Ultima. As Second Life proves, this is a viable and attractive option for people, to the point where alternative reality becomes a meaningless phrase.

The opportunity to combine virtual and real has vastly greater potential. Google’s My Maps offers a tiny glimpse into this future. As computing becomes, as IBM likes to call it, more pervasive, the experience becomes both richer and more relevant. Physical location becomes both more important and less. ‘More’ in the sense you can maximize the benefit of being in a place, either through offering live video/audio to others or maximizing the instant availability of information to deepen the experience, such as walking through a Mall and knowing what you, your family, or similar individuals have purchased in the past or even enjoyed at the food court. ‘Less’ in the sense you needn’t travel to a place to experience something of its qualities, or to interact, even intimately, with another individual.

In Olaf Stapledon’s astounding novel, “Last and First Men,” the most evolved form of humanity, 2 billion years hence, exists with a dual consciousness, that of the individual and of the collective. This idealized vision imagines the utopia of individuality of thought and experience merged with the brain-power of billions of minds thinking as one. Maybe we’re just now taking the first small step down this long path.